The Modernist heresy is once again the lecture topic for the local Virginia based Institute of Catholic Culture. Speaking to a full house at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Annandale, Christendom College professor, Dr. William Marshner began to lay out the historical and theological roots of the Modernism.
The Modernist heresy was born in the late 1800’s and grew to prominence in the early 1900’s. In 1907 Pope Pius X confronted the Modernism head on when he issued the papal document Lementabili Sane, or as it is know in English the Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists.
Modernism in practice is outgrowth of the Victorian spirit of optimism. This spirit of optimism harbored the sentiments that the 19th century culture was superior to the cultures of the past. The Victorians maintained the belief that they had evolved such that the “old time religion was no longer necessary” said Dr. Marshner. This Victorian hubris is hinted at in several of the Modernist proposition condemned by Pope Pius X, for example condemned Modernist proposition 53 which reads, “The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.”
The intellectual roots of Modernism have its origins with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. An excerpt of Book IV from Emile entitled The Creed of a Savoyard Priest, Rousseau outlines his view of education and Man’s relationship with God, the scriptures and the Church. Man should approach God and religion as a free thinker and skeptic. The doctrines and creeds of religion should not be forced on anyone. But rather, Man’s inner spirituality and religious impulses need to be nourished by ceremony and symbolism.
Finally Dr. Marshner explains that a French priest, Fr. Marcel Hébert embodies the early modernist mentality. Fr. Hébert wrote, “I am thankful that I have come through the crisis, in which so many have foundered, with a creed whose formulas have been slightly modified but in which all that is fundamental remains.” Modernists like Fr. Hébert profess the Catholic creed in word but in substance have changed the fundamental understanding of each article.
Dr. Marshner continues his lecture series this coming Thursday, September 29 at 7:30 pm at St. Michael Catholic Church in Annandale. Click here to read the full event flier. Learn about the Institute of Catholic Culture and its mission by visiting their website www.instituteofcatholicculture.org